Condors

Tuesday, Feb 05 2013 11:25 PM

Freeman's big night lifts Condors, who enter make-or-break stretch

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield's Evan Trupp brings the puck up the ice against Stockton during the first period of the Condor's homestand against the Thunder on Tuesday night at Rabobank Arena. Teammate Daniel Koger and the Thunder's Gabriel Levesque trail the play.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield's Scott Freeman get's double-teamed by Stockton's Harrison Reed, left, and teammate Mike Little during the first period of the Condor's home game at Rabobank Arena on Tuesday night.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield's Nicholas Tremblay battles Stockton's Mike Little in front of Thunder goalie Tyler Bunz while a loose puck sits just outside the crease during the first period of their game at Rabobank Arena on Tuesday night.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

It was a good night for Clarkson University alum at Rabobank Arena.

Especially Scott Freeman.

Freeman assisted on three early goals, then scored the game-winner with less than four-minutes to play as the Condors began a crucial stretch of five games over six games with a 4-3 victory over the Stockton Thunder on Tuesday night.

"This is our season, we've got to get an many points as we can," said Freeman of Bakersfield's quest (the Condors are 14-31-3) of trying to get back into the playoff picture.

Freeman and his former college teammates Nicholas Tremblay and rookie Jake Morley combined for six assists on three goals as the Condors scored three times in the first 23 minutes of the game to take a 3-0 lead.

Morley was playing in his first game as a Condor after coming over from the Central Hockey League. Tremblay, with input from Freeman, joined the team on Jan. 11 and has18 points in 14 games (and a five-game point streak). Freeman had 30 points in 30 games last season for Bakersfield but started the season in Europe. He came to the Condors a week after Trembly and now has eight points in seven games.

And while it was a nice reunion for the boy, more importantly the victory started the week off on a good note.

"This is our season," Condors coach Matt O'Dette said. "After Sunday's game (in San Francisco) we'll have a good idea of where we're at. Obviously it's a huge week."

The Condors came out fast with Francis Verreault getting the first of two goals just 1:43 into the game when he scored off a nice feed from Freeman.

Bakersfield opened up a 2-0 lead 15 minutes into the period when Brett Perlini scored on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box. That goal was set up by Morley, who used a nice bank shot off the board sto get the puck to Perlini.

Bakersfield made it 3-0 three minutes into the second pertiod when Verreault (who now has nine goals and nine assists in 16 games with Bakersfield) scored his second.

But the Thunder answered with a power-play goal two minutes later and the momentum shifted.

Two more goals in the first 71/2 minutes of the third made it a tie game and it was nervous time in Bakersfield.

"Going into the third you want to play defensive, you want to play smart and sometimes you forget about attacking.," Freeman said. "They got a quick one there (two minutes into the third) so you're back on your heels and before you know it it's 3-3 and a tie game."

It stayed that way until Freeman, driving to the net, deflected a shot by Kyle Haines for the game-winning goal with 3:22 remaining.

"That's one of those situations where we bent but we didn't break then we found a way to get that goal there," O'Dette said. "It was a little simple play. We catch a bounce and we get rewarded."

Scott Greenham stopped 34 shots to get the win.

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